An article I read recently on Psychology Today discusses habits and ways in which one can break them. The author outlines 5 easy steps, including identifying, finding the why, goal setting, progress check-ins, and finding support. All of these steps are steps we’ve used to try and get out of debt, but until reading this, I’d never considered it a habit. An unfortunate event? Sure. A financial stranglehold? Indeed.
Here is how our debt habit looks according to the steps outlined in the linked article.
Identifying: We identified that we needed to get out of debt and were ready to focus on eliminating it.
Why Were We In Debt: Finding our why was much more difficult at first. It was a number of seemingly small “good” things (spending on the kids at holidays) and little tiny luxuries, things that weren’t particularly luxurious, that added up. It was making snap decisions, living beyond our means and not in line with any particular set of values or mission.
Goal Setting: We realized quickly that we needed a family mission statement. Our mission statement allowed us to think in much more concrete terms about the things we wanted for our future and how we are going to get there, while still enjoying the moment with the children. With this mission statement written, we were able to form our goals. Our goal setting started by eliminating and downsizing things we no longer needed or used. We realized we had a lot of stuff that didn’t really relate to the lifestyle we wanted. From there, we placed simple goals on ourselves, such as staying within our budget for each calendar month!
Progress Check-Ins: Sometimes our progress check-ins happen here, on MLoD. Other times, our check-ins happen with just the two of us, seeing how we’ve done on our budget. Each day we check-in with each other and our budget. It allows us to fine-tune things if they seem to be going askew.
Finding Support: Finding the personal finance community online has been a great help to feeling supported. Just knowing where to go to find great information and a you can do it! has always been reassuring.
I knew that compulsive shopping could be considered a habit…but just having debt? I suppose if you fall into the “short-term, once-in-a-while, just at the holidays” kind of debt, it may not be considered a habit. I’m guessing our debt falls into the chronic debt category. It’s the kind that has just kind of creeped up and continues to grow, thus being a habit.
Either way, it has to go!
If you haven’t broken your debt habit today is the day to start!